Hillary Clinton walks through a paneled doorway and onto the set of "The Colbert Report." A grin splits her face. She puts her arms out and rocks them up and down as if she were a mechanical toy.
Stephen Colbert is stunned. Shocked. Amazed.
Hillary steps up onto the low podium where Colbert is seated behind a desk. Her grin grows wider. Colbert keeps a dumbfounded look on his face. A surprise appearance on his own show!
The audience is daffy with delight. Hillary and Colbert now sit at the desk, going through various grins and grimaces of faux astonishment as the audience chants: "Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry! Hill-a-ry!"
This ought to be good. In September 2007, Hillary's presidential campaign aides were arranging for her to appear on the season opener of "Saturday Night Live." She refused.
One said: "We told her doing 'SNL' would be a way of showing she was being a good sport and letting her hair down. But she didn't want to do that."
She did not want to risk looking foolish. Her husband never had such qualms. He had once gone on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and played the saxophone.
But Hillary is not Bill. True, she will agree to do a comedy show this time around. But not an unscripted appearance. It has to be written out before she will do it.
She does fine. Perhaps a little too stagy at times, but she is, after all, a professional politician, not a professional actor. And there's a difference, right?
Colbert: "I will have you know, madam, I once did an entire show with President Bill Clinton."
Clinton: "Oh, I hate to break this to you, Stephen, but I've met him, too."
Colbert: "Gosh, you know everyone! What kind of loser do you have to be to not be included in your book?"
Clinton: "Well, you're not in it, Stephen."
The audience practically laughs up a lung.
When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he was battered continually by the media for "not being comfortable in his own skin."
But is Hillary any more comfortable in hers? Will she not do an appearance that might make her look candid, warm and appealing because she is not candid, warm or appealing?
We do not know. But give her this: She did stay for the entire five minutes, 14 seconds of her bit. Which is more than can be said for one of the possible Republican nominees in 2016, Rand Paul.
Though Paul has been getting some serious publicity recently, this also means he has been getting some serious scrutiny.
Phil Rucker of The Washington Post wrote last week: "In a state (Iowa) that prizes retail politics, Paul cut a reticent figure on the stump. He often seemed introverted and averse to the kind of glad-handing and back-slapping that is a favorite pastime of some of his potential opponents."
"But his oddities," Rucker went on, "also help underscore the outsider, anti-Washington posture that many GOP voters find appealing."
Could be. Republicans often do not shy away from candidates with "oddities." In 2012, though Mitt Romney won the nomination, Rick Santorum came in second, Newt Gingrich came in third and Ron Paul came in fourth.
In the GOP, oddities are no longer odd.
But there is one quirk that Paul may have to get over. He can't bolt from the room every time he comes upon a voter who might ask him a tough question.
This happened last week in a tiki bar in Okoboji, Iowa, a town of 807 people in the northwestern part of the state.
Paul was on a 10-stop, 800-mile tour and was snarfing down a burger with Rep. Steve King, the Republican who represents Iowa's 4th District. King recently gained notoriety for saying of immigrants, "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that ... weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
In the tiki bar, King and Paul were approached by Erika Andiola, who was brought to the United States from Mexico as an 11-year-old by her undocumented immigrant mother. Andiola is now 29, an honors graduate of Arizona State University and an immigration activist.
She asked King about current immigration law.
"You're very good at English. You know what I'm saying," the always-deft King said.
"I was raised in the United States," Andiola said.
And Paul? Paul took one look at Andiola and one look at his aide, who jerked his head to the side, indicating Paul should get the heck out of there, which Paul did. He took a hurried bite of his burger, left the rest and fled the scene.
Which was a little odd, seeing as Paul recently told Republicans: "We have to reach out to more people. ... It has to be a bigger party. It has to be a bigger movement." But faced in Iowa with a person of Hispanic heritage, he bugs out.
"For me, a person who wants to run for president has to be someone that has the courage to talk to people who are affected," Andiola said later, "and not just run from the problem."
Nobody is saying that Rand Paul is not comfortable in his own skin. It's just that he wants to shed it when convenient.